Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Checks and Imbalances

Isn't it bad enough that the mayor and the council speaker have been locked in a four year embrace that makes a mockery of the idea of checks and balances? Apparently not, since the two sides of city hall have collapsed on each other with the knifing of the public advocate's budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As the NY Times reports: "The five men vying to succeed Betsy Gotbaum as the city’s next public advocate showed up together at City Hall Friday to demonstrate solidarity with Ms. Gotbaum over a critical issue: the viability of the office."

Now we know that the all but invisible tenure of Ms. Gotbaum has got a lot of folks thinking-well, so what? But the larger point here is that the office of the Public Advocate has the potential to serve as a bully pulpit; and the need for a countervailing voice, if not force, is all the more compelling when we are facing the possibility of another four years of political pas de deux by Quinnberg.

As Mark Green, putative front runner to replace Gotbaum, told the Times: "Mr. Green, for instance, talked at length about the history of the office, before boiling down his concerns to a basic question: “Here’s the question I would urge you and you and all of you in a position to simply ask the mayor and speaker: ‘Why has only the watchdog over City Hall been cut 40 percent?’ ”

But the NY Post, quite unintendedly ironic, demurs: "Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and her would-be successors took to the steps of City Hall yesterday to bemoan the 40 percent budget cut her office suffered at the hands of the City Council last week. O, woe is them...They all want the cut restored, because they're running for advocate, too. All the more reason to cut it again.
This time, completely."

The Post, which has been functioning as a key cog of the Bloomberg propaganda machine on the issue of school governance; sometimes running three promotional items a day, wants to eliminate, what?-any possibility of a discouraging word on the city hall range? Quite another nod to the new Supreme Leader, and a disgraceful shot at political dissent in the city.